Friday, October 2, 2020

Mayhem releases a white Port

Photo: Mayhem's Terry Meyer Stone

Mayhem Wines may not entirely revive the lagging interest in Gewürztraminer but I predict this Okanagan Falls producer will spark a conversation about the variety with its recent releases.

These include a fortified Gewürztraminer. I cannot recall anything quite like this since the occasional Perle of Csaba dessert wines from several Okanagan wineries in the 1980s – and I do not think that those were fortified.

A wine like this, which very much recalls White Port, is in keeping with the Mayhem personality. The winery describes itself as “fun collaboration” between Terry Meyer Stone of Anarchist Mountain Vineyards and her brother, JAK Meyer of Meyer Family Vineyards.

With the exception of Gewürztraminer, there is no overlap in the wine portfolios of the two producers. Meyer is a leading Pinot Noir and Chardonnay producer. The only reason Meyer still makes a Gewürztraminer is because that varietal was already planted when JAK bought a vineyard in Okanagan Falls in 2008. Most of those vines have since been replaced but a small volume is still made, primarily for the Meyer wine shop.

The Mayhem portfolio, based on grapes from both home vineyards and from established growers, consists of aromatic whites and Bordeaux varietal reds. The two Gewürztraminers in this release are made with grapes from Cellarsbend Vineyard in Naramata.
The fortified Gewürztraminer reminded me of White Port, another rarely seen wine. The technical details describe the vinification: the grapes were fermented down to 19 brix and then fortified with alcohol, bringing the final alcohol to 18.1%. The wine was aged in an oak barrel for 20 months, including one summer when the barrel was left in the hot sun to oxidize slightly and to become concentrated. It is quite a remarkable wine.

Here are notes on the wines.

Mayhem Pinot Gris 2019 ($15.65). The wine has aromas and flavours of pears and citrus, with good weight on the palate and with a lingering finish. 90.

Mayhem Pinot Blanc 2019 ($15.65). The wine has aromas and flavours of apple and stone fruit. The finish is crisp and dry with a note of minerality. 90.

Mayhem Gewürztraminer 2019 ($15.65 for 111 cases). The wine begins with subdued notes of ginger and lychee, leading to flavours lychee, apple and pear, with a dry finish. 90.

Mayhem Fortified Gewürztraminer 2018 ($30.43 for 500 ml). This is a concentrated wine, packed with flavours of nuts and caramel. The flavours persist on the finish. Only 100 cases were made. 92. 

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